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PM would have known about Downing Street bash, says former aide Cummings

Dominic Cummings predicted the Prime Minister would be ‘gone next year’.

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Dominic Cummings (PA)

Dominic Cummings (PA)

Dominic Cummings (PA)

Boris Johnson would have known if a party was being held by staff in Downing Street, his former chief aide has said, despite allies insisting the Prime Minister could not be expected to know what was happening in every room.

Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer insisted Downing Street staff “were not drinking alcohol” and partying during Covid restrictions after it emerged the Prime Minister’s press chief addressed staff at one event last Christmas.

But Dominic Cummings, who left Downing Street in November 2020, said there was no way that Mr Johnson would not have known.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Adrian Dennis/PA)

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Answering questions on his paid-for blog on Friday, Mr Cummings said: “He knew but I think did not attend.”

But he said: “Tho remember the geography – to get upstairs he has to walk past that area where he could see it – if he was not Chequers…”

It is not clear which alleged gathering Mr Cummings was referring to.

However, it came as Downing Street said Mr Johnson retained confidence in communications director Jack Doyle after ITV reported he addressed up to 50 people and made a speech at the party on December 18.

Mr Doyle was also under scrutiny over his attendance at the event on December 11, during which the PA news agency understands he did present awards to the press team.

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Jack Doyle in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Jack Doyle in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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Jack Doyle in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked if Mr Doyle had offered his resignation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Not that I’m aware of.”

Mr Cummings said on Twitter Mr Doyle was a “gonner” (sic) but predicted Mr Johnson would keep him on staff until after the Cabinet Secretary’s inquiry, then use him “as the sacrifice”.

He said: “Also there’s lots of pictures of the parties which will inevitably get out. And invite lists beyond No10, to other departments…”

The spokesman also said Mr Johnson retains full confidence in adviser Ed Oldfield after he appeared in the leaked footage that prompted former press secretary Allegra Stratton to resign.

Earlier, Mr Spencer insisted the PM “will not have lied about any parties”.

The Sherwood MP told BBC Radio Nottingham: “I’m assured that everybody in that building played by the rules, and that’s why the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to do a thorough investigation to find out and establish the facts.”

Mr Spencer said he did not go to any parties in No 10 and sought to explain how the Prime Minister might not be aware of what was happening elsewhere in the building.

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Chief Whip Mark Spencer (Aaron Chown/PA)

Chief Whip Mark Spencer (Aaron Chown/PA)

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Chief Whip Mark Spencer (Aaron Chown/PA)

“When you describe it as a house, it’s a department of government, this is a huge, huge building, literally with hundreds and hundreds of offices and rooms. No single person could account for what’s happening in those buildings – they are huge buildings,” Mr Spencer said.

Told people are furious after suffering a miserable Christmas under Covid restrictions, Mr Spencer replied: “And so did the Prime Minister, believe me, he also had a miserable Christmas dealing with all of this and dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, as many people did in No 10 working day and night trying to solve the challenges the country was facing.

“I’m told they were not drinking alcohol and having parties while that was going on.”

Asked if Mr Johnson should go if found to have lied, the whip said: “The Prime Minister will not have lied about any parties.

“My understanding is that there was no party, but we need to investigate that. The Cabinet Secretary will investigate it and we will establish the facts.”

But Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson was being untruthful and added: “There were invites sent across Whitehall, it was an organised party.

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Dominic Cummings (Jeff Overs/BBC)

Dominic Cummings (Jeff Overs/BBC)

PA

Dominic Cummings (Jeff Overs/BBC)

“The trolley (referring to Mr Johnson) know this and tried to lie his way out but was fkd (sic) by the video.”

Asked whether the Prime Minister has the support of the party over the saga, Mr Cummings replied: “Gone next year.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the public “need honesty for this”.

Speaking in Hadston, Northumberland, he said: “I’d actually just like the Prime Minister to come to Parliament and be honest about it.

“We don’t need an elaborate inquiry.

“This is not, you know, some great mystery: ‘Did a party happen in your building Prime Minister, yes or no?'”

Meanwhile, Downing Street confirmed it had cancelled any plans to hold a Christmas party this year.

No 10 previously said it was the intention to have a festive bash this year.

But asked on Friday, the PM’s spokesman said: “I think we’ve made clear since the latest situation with Omicron, obviously that’s taking up great deal of time at the moment.

“There’s no plans for that in No 10.”

Asked when the decision was taken, the spokesman said: “Following the decision on Plan B and the latest data that we’ve got.”

The Cabinet Secretary will investigate multiple allegedly rule-breaking events in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year.

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